Review Blog

Oct 30 2018

Incognito by Shelley Johannes

cover image

Beatrice Zinker upside down thinker series. Lothian, 2018, ISBN 9780734417312
(Age: 7-9) Recommended. Themes: Individuality. Friendship. School life. Problem solving. Shelley Johannes has created a unique and fun character, a creative thinker whose best ideas come when she's upside down. While the rest of the girls in her class love to play vet clinic at break time, Beatrice Zinker and her best friend Lenny can be found hanging upside down in the maple tree. Their Operation Upside plan involves leaving special certificates hidden around school rewarding those kids who need a boost, a reward for their special talents.
Beatrice is ready to shake things up in third grade at William Charles Elementary School.
While Beatrice's enthusiasm is heartfelt, her impulsivity causes problems. The duo has a list of who they're going to give the certificates to, unfortunately Beatrice's decision to give their authoritarian teacher Mrs. Tamarack a certificate for being the Most Strict Teacher causes unexpected issues. The teacher has her suspicions about the student who put the award in her bag, but nobody owns up. Beatrice decides to go incognito to school: no more ninja gear, it's pink dresses to blend in with the other girls.
In the week that follows, Beatrice learns Morse Code, becomes friends with mysterious Sam Darzi, uses her ninja skills for secret rooftop meetings and manages to sort out her problems.
Shelley Johannes lively illustrations add fun and drama to Beatrice's exploits and daily school life. She encourages young readers to think positively and celebrate their different styles and personalities. Her creative language uses alliteration, humour and sensory experiences to build a picture of Beatrice's journey. Incognito is a delightful junior novel just right for sharing with younger students in Years 2-4. The author explore themes of emotional wellbeing, friendship, self-perception and anti-bullying.
Rhyllis Bignell

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